Archetypes: Your Guides to Your Authentic Self

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I’m honored that my article, “Archetypes: Your Guides to Your Authentic Self,” is featured in the spring issue of “Inspired” magazine. You can read the whole magazine here. Since the article is twice as long as one of my usual blog posts, I’m reprinting it here and in the next post

“I’m more open to new ideas and theories that are personally meaningful.”

“I’m more open to new ideas and theories that are logical and can be tested using the scientific method.”

This pair of statements is one of twenty on Part I of The Partnership Profile, an informal self-assessment in my new book, The Soul’s Twins: Emancipate Your Feminine and Masculine Archetypes. It’s not always easy to choose one statement in each pair, because sometimes your preferences change depending on the situation. So it can take some self-examination to decide which one you usually prefer. And that’s exactly the point of this exercise: to encourage you to reflect on who you are, why you act in predictable ways in certain situations, and what inner forces have the most influence on your choices.

The Soul’s Twins highlights eight fundamental archetypes that humanity tends to associate with the binary genders. The reality is that every human embodies the same archetypal energies, yet, despite the rapid expansion of our psychological knowledge over the past 150 years, our cultures still tend to discourage us from using certain aspects of our natural potential and apply pressure on us to develop other potentials—which may or may not be of interest to us—because of our gender. Certainly, there are physical differences that predispose us to fill certain societal roles at certain times in our lives, and each individual is born with a unique personality with its own set of interests, skills, and preferences. But the fact remains: We all have the same psychological potential. The same emotions, drives, instincts, archetypes, and goals. And when we repress any of these to fit cultural stereotypes, we do our souls a great disservice.

Every psyche contains two basic drives—a yin force and a yang force—that continually interact to create and replenish our psychological energy. Yin is your lunar, feminine drive for species preservation. Yang is your solar, masculine drive for self-preservation. You function at your best when you avail yourself of both as you go through each day, allowing them to balance your priorities and influence your thoughts, emotions, actions, and relationships.

We’re also born with five basic instincts: nurturance, activity, reflection, sex, and creativity. These, too, impact your daily life in myriad ways. For example, hunger pangs trigger your instinct for nurturance. When you feel them your instinct for reflection prompts you to consider options: Shall I finish this project or eat lunch first? Your instinct for activity nudges you to get up, walk into the kitchen, and open the refrigerator door. Your instinct for creativity imagines which ingredients would make the most satisfying sandwich. Your instinct for sex urges you to prepare the most sensually appealing and pleasurable concoction you can think of! Hmmm. Maybe chocolate for dessert?

Imagine that all the qualities associated with each instinct are arranged on a continuum between a lunar archetype at one pole, and a solar archetype at the other. Your ego has its own comfort spot between them. In the case of your instinct for nurturance, your lunar archetype is Mother and your solar archetype is Father. Every child is born with an archetypal pattern for Mother and Father. Think of these patterns as images in a child’s coloring book that come alive and influence you in powerful ways as you color them in. Because of our personal experiences with human mothers and fathers, no one fills in those patterns the exact same way. One person might put a smile on Father’s face and a scowl on Mother. Another might do the opposite. You may imagine Mother bustling around in the kitchen and recall wonderful smells. I may have similar associations for Father. And my neighbor may not picture either parent in the kitchen.

The fact that archetypes are universal psychological patterns doesn’t mean everyone has the same associations or preferences for them. Cultures vary in their attitudes toward the archetypes and individuals vary in their experience of them. Take a moment to reflect: Where do you stand between Mother and Father? What images come to mind when you think of your personal Mother? What feelings and emotions? What memories? What qualities do you associate with her? Are they mostly positive? Mostly negative? A mixture of both? Now ask yourself the same questions about your personal Father.

This exercise may have aroused some painful feelings like resentment, anger, mistrust, fear, bitterness, disgust, or sadness. You also felt some positive ones like trust, warmth, comfort, affection, joy, or peace. Did you ever meet someone new and take an instant like or dislike to them because they brought up some of these feelings in you? Of course. Because some people remind you of qualities your personal mother and father had that were instrumental in shaping your own personality.

Where do you stand between these archetypes in yourself?

I’ll finish this next week. Meanwhile, you can read more about The Soul’s Twins and order it here where you’ll find the latest reviews, and here, where you can find out about other books from Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit.

Image Credit: The Splendor Solis, Salomin Trismosin, 16th century.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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12 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,

    This is a great article! Last weekend I took the Partnership Profile assessment from your new book “The Soul’s Twins” together with my own partner. As it’s only days later and still very fresh in my mind, I think I’m going to have to sit with the results for a while and read more about each archetype before jumping in to say more … suffice to say that I scored 16 lunar and 4 solar on the profile, all with a 56, very high life satisfaction life score and my partner scored 18 lunar and 2 solar with a very different 34 life satisfaction score.

    The similarities yet differences on the lunar score combined with low solar archetypes score came as no surprise to either of us, although interestingly, the two solar scores she did have were missing on my score and my 4 solar ones were missing from hers … interesting! I’m sure I’ll learn more as I continue reading, however, it was the differences on the life satisfaction score part that provided a rich and wonderful opening for an in-depth conversation last weekend, coincidentally or not, our 17th “first date” anniversary.

    I really enjoyed the examples you give of how each archetype manifests in humans and gods and goddesses alike, irrelevant of gender, which I find makes so much more sense than the old fashioned categorising of solar archetypes to men and lunar archetypes to women. How refreshing! I shall be thinking about this for a long time and regardless of my high ratio of lunar qualities, I feel the score perfectly reflects where I am … however; I shall explore which archetypes I’m repressing in order to find more balance in those areas.

    Alongside my own explorations of the Goddess Sophia in the forthcoming weeks, I shall definitely bear in mind what I’m learning here from your amazing new book! In relation to balancing out these eight archetypes, I do wonder if slipping into areas of strength and comfort and staying there is an all too easy habit we develop over the years? Thankfully your rich, archetypal Partnership Profile encourages us and introduces us to more tools in the soul’s box, not just a few although I appreciate those sweet comfort spots too!

    Love and light, Deborah.

  2. Dear Deborah,

    Thank you so much for reading The Soul’s Twins. Thank you also for your summary here of how the Partnership Profile is stimulating some personal reflection and dialogue with your partner. I wrote this book to give readers personal experiences and insights about how these particular archetypes function within their own psyches and then apply their insights to their relationships. I’m so delighted to know I’ve succeeded!

    One of my discoveries about the Partnership Profile is that it’s very common for people of both genders to score higher on the solar archetypes in the first half of their lives, then strengthen their lunar archetypes in the second, especially if their life-satisfactions are above average and if they’ve experienced some sort of life-changing transition around mid-life. This seems to be in line with the theories of psychologists like Jung, Erickson, and Maslow, all who see healthy growth proceeding from an almost exclusive emphasis on patriarchal ideals about personal survival and outer world success in the first half of life to a growing awareness, acceptance, and concern for all forms of otherness–including the otherness of the inner life of our souls–and the development of the receptive, non-dual thinking that is associated with the lunar archetypes, in the second half.

    But there’s another way of looking at this. For example, if one has spent most of one’s life serving the lunar archetypes, one may be feeling the need to strengthen some solar qualities in later life. That sense of being somehow incomplete or unfulfilled in one or two instinctual areas of your life could be the reason for a lower life-satisfaction score. As you get further into the book you’ll see that the life-satisfaction scores are connected to the five instincts and their related archetypes. Knowing which instincts are related to lower scores can guide you toward consciously meeting those instinctual needs. As you can see, your life stage and experiences have everything to do with your score. There’s no one ideal score for everyone.

    I’m so glad to know that you feel your score perfectly reflects where you are right now. From what I know of you I’m not surprised! 🙂 Perhaps you’re not really repressing any instincts or archetypes. Maybe you simply have less need of some of their qualities now than you once did. Or maybe you’re made in such a way that one instinct or archetype simply may never have as high a priority in your life as the others……. Only you can know whether it’s a problem in your life and relationships or not. Likewise, if you slip “into areas of strength and comfort” and stay there because it’s easier, I don’t see that as a problem….unless it is. 🙂

    In other words, I’d stay open to the idea that not wanting to tackle certain areas of weakness could become a problem, and if my partner were to tell me that it is, then I’d listen and try to see what I could do. That has happened to me in my relationship with my husband. In the last few years I’ve taken on some things I was uncomfortable with in the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of the relationship, and after a period of resistance and struggle, ended up feeling good about it, knowing I did the right thing for myself as well as for my relationship. The positive self-esteem I’ve gained makes the struggle worthwhile.

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with your soul’s twins. I look forward to seeing the results of your Sophia explorations.

    Love,
    Jeanie

    1. Oh, thank you so much Jeanie for your in-depth reply! I shall look forward to exploring those five instinctual areas and their related archetypes in order to make deeper connections and understand my own and Lin’s life satisfaction scores. For me I’m initially intrigued as to why I have the score 0 for Father and the score 0 for Sage … and then I got to thinking about my childhood and how I grew up with a Shadow Father and Shadow Sage so maybe I’ve (consciously and unconsciously) created my own shadow out of these archetypes. Hmm, so I wonder if 0 somehow highlights a person’s shadow or at the very least brings into plain sight what was hidden all along. Was this your intention with the Partnership Profile … because it clearly identifies my own shadowy areas? Wow! On that note, I look forward to exploring more. I hope the day finds you well. Love and light, Deborah.

      1. Brilliant sleuthing, Deborah!

        So here’s the thing. Jung said that quiet archetypes don’t create shadows, but your experience begs further investigation. If by “quiet” he simply means, “inactive”, not “repressed,” then I assume he meant that if you’re not aware of any strong feelings either way about a particular archetype, then that would mean it’s quiet in you. It’s just not an important influence in your life.

        But if you do have strong feelings, for example, if you actively dislike some King and Sage qualities and are especially aware of them in others, then that would mean that even though the King and Sage may have a low or zero score, they’re not exactly “quiet.” In this case they have been repressed and projected onto others. Then they are, indeed, part of your shadow. You don’t like any of the qualities they represent….because they’re qualities of your own repressed shadow!

        Yes, my intention on the Partnership Profile was to help people use their scores to discover their own bright and dark shadow qualities. That’s why I describe the shadows of each archetype and ask readers to ask themselves questions like yours.

        I want to thank you for asking me these questions because you’re helping me clarify my thinking too. There’s a lot more to this simple self-assessment than first meets the eye and it really helps me to have someone to discuss it with!

        Much love, Jeanie

        1. You’re most welcome Jeanie! Hmm, I definitely get the feeling that they are repressed and indeed part of my shadow! Interestingly, Lin has a 3 Sage score. I’m going to dig into this some more in the weeks and months ahead because I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in relation to fully understanding your amazing Partnership Profile! It would be interesting to hear from others, in particular in exploring archetypes where they also scored 0 to see whether they can identity aspects of their own shadow. Intriguing, so much food for thought here! Love and light, Deborah.

          1. I have a very strong Mediatrix so my Sage score was low the last time I took it too. But I know that I contain some of his shadow qualities. They embarrass me when I see them in myself and they embarrass me when I see them in others, so there you are! Conversely, since Mediatrix is so strong, I contain many of her bright, but also some of her shadow qualities too. I’m much more comfortable with these. They don’t bother me much, so you can say I’ve consciously embodied them. But they can bother others! 🙂 Either way, too obsessive or too repressive — both invite the shadow in. “Hello, my shadow. Will you be my friend?” Yuck. Hard to admit but healthy to welcome their lessons.

            Jung said, “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.” “Psychology and Religion (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East, p. 131.

            Jung was so brilliant. I’d love it if others would enter into this dialogue. It can be helpful to all of us.

          2. More brilliant insights! Thank you for sharing them. What you’ve created Jeanie is amazing and in my opinion your Partnership Profile deepens and furthers the work of Jung himself. My Mediatrix score was 5 so I can resonate deeply with all you’ve shared here.

  3. Thank you Jeanie, the first 2 questions in themselves provide much food for thought. They are both very revealing but as I reflected on them I saw elements that were both true of me. I hope very much to do the partnership profile before too long – I can see how it could provide for areas of growth and coming to terms with shadow aspects.. and more of course –

    .

    1. Yes, most of the questions are like that. That can make them difficult to answer, but that’s also what makes them effective. The very struggle to differentiate between when you do and don’t prefer certain qualities helps you discover a lot about yourself. And once you get into the meat of the book and see how these qualities play out in the lives of mythical and real people in healthy and dysfunctional ways, you’ll get a better feel for where your soul’s priorities lie, and what archetypal forces are at the bottom of some of your own conflicts. I hope you are able to get a copy soon… Much love, Jeanie

  4. Deborah, your last comment brings tears to my eyes. To further Jung’s work with this book has been my goal. Thank you from the depths of my heart. Love, Jeanie

  5. Jeanie, I also scored very high (16) on the lunar side, but predominantly Queen (who has strong warrior qualities) and also Beloved. I’m contemplating what all this means inwardly and in relationships. It feels right that Mother is less predominant than it was a few decades back. I’m slowly working through the structure you’ve created and finding resonances. On I go to reading about the Warrior, a place where I scored low. I’m surprised I didn’t have more a stronger solar focus in my answers, especially after the last dozen years on my own. I’m slowly putting together this unique complex puzzle of my psyche. More later. Congratulations for your article in “Inspired.”

  6. Thank you, Elaine. It’s lovely to know that the Partnership Profile is giving you some resonances and plenty to think about. This was my hope for it: not to give anybody any certainty (who could possibly do that for anyone else?) but to provoke lots of deep questions and listening. If it can do that for you, it’s done its job and I’m very grateful. I look forward to hearing what insights come for you.

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